Today’s post is for the groom out there who is preparing to marry a Yoruba bride and wondering: what should be in the list of things/ gifts a groom need to buy to take to the bride’s family during the traditional marriage ceremony in Nigeria?, or what does the Yoruba bride price list look like? or even how much do I need to prepare for a Yoruba traditional marriage/ engagement?
So, to provide you with the answers, I reached out to a Yoruba man to ask what and what he bought as part of the customary wedding list for his traditional engagement ceremony. I also confirmed from two newlywed Yoruba brides. I asked them about the list of things their grooms brought to their traditional Yoruba marriage ceremony.
They all also provided answers to common questions grooms usually have, such as: can cash be accepted in place of any listed item(s) that are not provided? when is a cow also requested by Yoruba in-laws? and more.
This post presents my findings of everything inside a Yoruba traditional engagement list given to grooms who are planning to marry a Yoruba bride. I hope it helps prepare your mind, and your pocket too before you receive the traditional engagement list from your inlaws.
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Eru Iyawo/ Yoruba Engagement List: See What Is Inside (Grooms Guide for Budgeting)
- 1 Bible
- Engagement ring
- 1 box/ suitcase of clothes
- An Umbrella
- Yams (42 big tubers)
- Palm Oil and Vegetable Oil (25 Litres)
- Honey (1 bottle)
- Kolanut (or Obi in Yoruba language; 25 pieces)
- Bitter Kola (Orogbo, in Yoruba language)
- Alligator pepper (42 pieces; Atare, in yoruba language))
- Sugar Cane
- Maize/ Corn Cake (Aadun, in Yoruba language)
- Fruits (different types)
- Rice (1 bag)
- She-Goat/ Female Goat
- Yoruba Traditional Cloth (Aso- Oke)
For items below, there’s no specified quantity, and so the groom may bring as much (or as little) as he can afford. Some men choose to present more than the quantity required by custom:
- Salt (1 bag)
- Bottled water
- Wine (1 bottle)
- Soft drinks
- Cash gifts: Some cash for some traditional customary rites during the engagement ceremony. The cash gifts are purely symbolic and a ceremonial thing and not about the monetary value. A breakdown of required cash gifts include:
- The bride price, which I was told is only Five Thousand Naira (N5,000) in most Yoruba villages;
- Random cash gifts: The rest of the cash gifts, as I was told is about Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000), usually from presenting random bits of cash (of any amount the groom desires) for one thing or the other in the course of the ceremony. For example, the groom could present N500 here and N1,000 there for things like “Owo Isigba” (i.e. money to open the engagement list items that the groom brought), “Owo Ijoko Iyawo” (money to bring in your bride), Owo Iya Gbo (money to seek the bride’s mother’s consent), money to ask for her father’s consent, money to unveil the bride, etc. How these cash gifts are spent is that during the traditional engagement/ wedding, the Alaga, who is the traditional wedding master of ceremony, playfully ‘nudges the groom to pay’ before his bride is unveiled or before receiving her parents’ consent (to marry her) and so on. There are no specified amounts for the random cash gifts, and so the groom can give whatever he desires.
So, How Much is Bride Price in Yorubaland?
The Yoruba bride price is only N5,000 (Five Thousand Naira) across most Yoruba states and villages. This is explained in the section above. This amount is purely symbolic and not asked for the sake of money. In fact, some parents (of brides) give back the money to the groom to drive this point home.
Also, everything brought by the groom (engagement list items), are symbolic and not accepted for monetary gains or purpose.
The Yoruba people believe that the value of their girl child/ bride is beyond the value of money, and so the bride price does not imply that a groom is buying the bride.
How the Yoruba Engagement List Varies Slightly From Place to Place & More Insights (Q & A)
Here are answers to some common questions grooms ask, when preparing to take the customary Yoruba engagement list items to the bride’s family, as part of the traditional wedding rites:
When is a Cow Part of the Yoruba Engagement List?
On how the basic engagement list varies slightly across different Yoruba towns and villages, one of our readers (Seun) added that “Some Yoruba parents of brides ask the groom for specific gifts or contributions towards the traditional wedding reception catering (food and drinks), to support feeding of guests”.
This is only done where the bride’s parents are not financially strong enough to foot all the bills for the wedding reception. Other parts of Nigeria also have this element; the Igbos call it “ego ogo cherem‘.
So, Seun continues: “Typical additional items include a cow, a bag of rice, a keg of palm-wine and vegetable oil. The reason for these is to have the groom share in the catering bill at the traditional engagement or reception so that as the groom provides the cow to be used (for meat), the in-laws would provide the remaining catering/ food items”.
Is Cash Accepted (by Groom) For Any Items Not Presented in Case Groom Could Not Purchase All Listed Items in the Yoruba Engagement List?
To answer this question, I reached out to an old Yoruba woman (a grandmother/ mama) about how this is done regarding the typical Yoruba traditional engagement list. She told me that some items can be done in cash, meaning that the groom may be allowed to put down a cash value for an item in place of bringing the item.
Is it Wrong for a Groom to Visit His Yoruba In-laws without Taking Gifts?
Answer: In Yoruba culture, it’s in bad taste for a groom to go empty-handed to officially meet his in-laws. (This is also same in other Nigerian culture, like with the Igbo and Edo marriage customs).
The Yoruba mama I asked said that it is not good for the groom to visit his in-laws empty-handed. He is expected to bring all or some of the items and confirm from the bride’s family if he could bring cash in place of specific items in the list.
Is the Engagement List Content Exactly the Same Across All Yorubaland?
Answer: No; slight variation exists.
My Yoruba contributor (grandma) also told me that there may be a slight variation across different Yoruba villages, in what makes up the traditional engagement list, but that most of the items are the same all over.
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Budgeting for a Yoruba Bride Price and Traditional Engagement
Now, for our dear grooms, if you’re in the middle of going to see your bride’s Yoruba family, now you have an idea of how much a Yoruba engagement ceremony could cost you. It’s important to get the bride price and your traditional marriage settled as soon as possible before your white wedding.
However, we are seeing more grooms doing this on the same day as their white wedding or a few days or weeks apart. There’s no rule on how far apart to set dates for Yoruba traditional wedding/ engagement and white wedding in Nigeria – the choice is yours.
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Guest Count and Wedding Budget: One thing that will make your traditional budget high or low is your guest count. The more people you have, the higher the budget you will incur. You need to decide how many guests to invite to your Yoruba traditional engagement ceremony. That depends on whether you want the event to be low key or over-the-top.
You also need to consider how much space you have at the venue where the traditional marriage will take place.
Just so you know, most couples invite only a handful of their friends and the rest are close family members to their traditional engagement ceremony and invite more guests to the white wedding. However you decide is up to you, and how big your pocket is.
Conclusion: Grooms Guide to the Yoruba Customary Engagement List
We’ve come to the end of this guide for grooms preparing to take a Yoruba bride. If this article has helped you in any way, you’ll want to see our other helpful Nigerian men wedding preparation tips and advice including men’s wedding fashion inspiration and more.
By the way, if you’ve already done your engagement ceremony, is there anything in the above ‘Eru Iyawo’ list that was different from your own list? Or were there other items you bought that are not listed above?
WEDDING FASHION IDEAS:
- Latest Aso-oke Designs and Styles Spotted on Yoruba Couples
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Also, I’d love to hear what the engagement list is like for other Nigerian tribes – from newlywed brides, grooms, as well as those who already completed their trad engagement ceremonies. Let’s hear it in the comments section below.